Today, February 25th, 2017, the FYE store in Wolfchase Mall will close for the final time. Now just a shell of it’s former self, this music and movie store served as a central hub for the hunt for music and movies among most anyone in the area, but was especially popular among anime fans. It was one of the few places in the early 2000’s where one could just straight up purchase anime or related merchandise, and even now, such is rare to find available in most stores.
It went beyond just merchandise, though – the location itself, up until the final few years, was super friendly to the local anime geek scene on a whole, even having “Anime Days” where people would cosplay, hang out, have fun, and buy videos and merchandise one sale. It was quite a fun little event the few times I went, and it really made the store stand out as a unique spot for groups to go, browse, maybe buy a few things, and have an alright time.
Of course, I focus on the anime scene here (have I said the word anime enough yet?) since it was certainly the largest subculture to make use of the store, but it wasn’t the only one. FYE had quite the diverse selection of music and movies – I especially find it funny how they had wrestling DVD’s right next to softcore pornography, those two categories alone showing just how unique the interests could go (okay, wrestling shows this more than the porn does, but you see my point) but the store naturally sold the stuff you would expect – new release films, new and popular music releases, CD / DVD storage, and all that junk.
Basically, it was what you would expect, mixed with what you wouldn’t normally think of. FYE had a certain charm to it that no other store did, and many of us loved it. Between the dozens of clothing stores, the annoying and never-ending kiosks, FYE seemed to be a place that you actually wanted to go to and look around ; hell, at least it had something interesting to look at, but it was so much more that I can’t really word.
We just enjoyed the place, young, old, it didn’t matter. It may have been just another FYE store (many of which, oddly, are closing around this same time) but for us, for the time it was its best, it was a unique place. It’s really a loss to the geek scene here in Memphis and the surrounding area – Wolfchase, for all its flaws, is still a decent place to meet up with friends, and this store was a highlight, especially for those who don’t live in the area but were meeting up with friends. Sadly this is no longer an option for us.
Instead, it will be replaced with another shoe store. Go figure.
Next up, when I can write it in such a way that doesn’t take 1000 words, my thoughts on just why the store closed. It’s a complex mess when you really think about it.